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AP’s Selection of Top Albums in 2023: Featuring Music by Olivia Rodrigo, Peso Pluma, The Rolling Stones, and More

by Ryan Lee
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Top Albums 2023

Here is a paraphrased and expanded version of the text:

In the realm of music, 2023 has been nothing short of spectacular, spanning various genres and delivering a multitude of outstanding albums. Nevertheless, only a select few have earned the prestigious honor of making it onto AP’s coveted list. Worth noting, though, is the exclusion of SZA’s “SOS,” which saw its release in December of 2022, and Ice Spice’s “Like…?” which falls short of being a full-length album. Furthermore, the 11 Grammy nominations received by “Barbie the Album” serve as ample recognition in their own right.

Instead of adhering to the conventional practice of pitting vastly different albums against one another, we choose to celebrate excellence by presenting the best alongside the best. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the albums that have left a significant mark on 2023.

“Génesis,” Peso Pluma

(Double P Records via AP)

The year 2023 has been dominated by regional Mexican artists who have transcended geographical boundaries, extending their influence far beyond Mexico and the southwestern United States. As Carín León aptly put it in a previous interview with The Big Big News, this music is no longer confined to a “regional” category; it has evolved into a global phenomenon. Leading this transformative charge is Peso Pluma, whose third studio album, “Génesis,” has achieved the unprecedented feat of becoming the highest-charting regional Mexican album of all time. Comprising 14 tracks, “Génesis” seamlessly blends contemporary flair with traditional corridos tumbados, introducing vibrant and previously marginalized music to a broader audience while imprinting it with Pluma’s unique identity.

“GUTS,” Olivia Rodrigo

(Geffen Records via AP)

Over the course of two years since her emotionally charged ballad “drivers license” burst onto the scene like a force of nature, Olivia Rodrigo has experienced a whirlwind of life events, culminating in the release of “GUTS,” her sophomore album. Across 12 tracks that traverse the spectrum of grandiose ballads and power-packed pop-punk infused with the spirit of riot grrrl, Rodrigo masterfully encapsulates the tumultuous journey of fame and the challenges of transitioning into one’s twenties. From the hauntingly beautiful piano ballad “vampire” to the playfully introspective “bad idea right?” and the incisive “all-american bitch” that pays homage to Joan Didion, Rodrigo crafts a musical narrative that transforms life’s adversities into a sonic manifesto of a young woman’s discontent.

“Lucky,” Megan Moroney

(Sony Music via AP)

Let’s not beat around the bush: 2023 has seen the resurgence of country music, with chart-toppers like Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” and Luke Combs’ rendition of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” dominating the Billboard charts for the better part of the year. Amidst this musical landscape, Megan Moroney’s debut album, “Lucky,” shines brightly, devoid of the stereotypical male bravado that often characterizes mainstream country music. While her enchanting single “Tennessee Orange” has been a staple on country radio, it’s the entirety of “Lucky” that truly establishes Moroney as a Gen Z songwriter possessing the lyrical acumen reminiscent of Taylor Swift—a rising star who deserves our unwavering attention.

“Hackney Diamonds,” The Rolling Stones

(Universal Music via AP)

Before the surprise release of “Hackney Diamonds,” the Rolling Stones had been absent from the world of original music for a staggering 18 years, with their last offering being 2005’s “A Bigger Bang.” This unexpected album, raw and rock-infused as ever, boasts 12 electrifying tracks and marks a poignant moment following the 2021 loss of drummer Charlie Watts. Produced by Andrew Watt, known for his collaborations with Post Malone and Justin Bieber, and featuring a guest appearance by Lady Gaga, “Hackney Diamonds” adds yet another illustrious chapter to the band’s legendary discography. As aptly put by AP’s Jocelyn Noveck, this album represents the Stones at their finest in decades—precise, focused, brimming with heart and unbridled swagger.

“Raven,” Kelela

(Warp Records via AP)

Kelela, the versatile R&B artist, delivers a captivating masterclass in sensuous breakbeats and explores themes of queer Black motherhood on her sophomore album, “Raven.” In a musical landscape where influences from U.K. garage, ’90s house, and electronica have converged in 2023, Kelela distinguishes herself with her measured intensity, delivering soulful vocals atop infectious dance rhythms. Her music evokes the ambiance of a vintage club at sunset, exemplified by the mesmerizing single “Contact.” In songs like “Loneliness,” she delves into the depths of human emotion, singing, “Loneliness, I see in your eyes / It might just render you blind. Baby, let’s dance it away.”

“Mañana Será Bonito,” Karol G

(Universal via AP)

The journey of reggaetón from its roots within diverse Latin communities—comprising elements of Jamaican dancehall riddims, Puerto Rican el underground, Panamanian reggae en español, New York hip-hop, and more—has been a long and arduous one to gain recognition in the global mainstream. However, even in the midst of reggaetón’s worldwide success, the conversation is often dominated by male figures such as Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, and Rauw Alejandro. “Mañana Será Bonito,” Karol G’s magnum opus, seeks to rectify this gender bias. This album is nothing short of a contemporary masterpiece, with tracks like the explosive “Ojos Ferrari,” the infectious “Ciaro,” the enchanting “TQG” featuring Shakira, and the fusion of Afrobeats in “Carolina.”

“New Blue Sun,” André 3000

(Epic via AP)

While not a conventional rap record, André 3000’s latest release is a testament to his musical innovation. The album opens with a track intriguingly titled “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time.” This opening piece, featuring California alt-jazz experimentalist Carlos Niño, sets the tone for a daring and unprecedented musical journey. After a hiatus of 17 years, André 3000, one half of the iconic hip-hop duo Outkast, presents a groundbreaking album featuring over 40 different types of flutes from around the world, creating an ambient jazz LP that is both minimalistic and meditative. It’s a listening experience that can be described as a blend of ancient wisdom and the Afrofuturism that André 3000 has always championed. In 2014, he expressed his concern about being forever known as the “Hey Ya!” guy, and with “New Blue Sun,” he lays those concerns to rest.

“Sundial,” Noname

(AWAL via AP)

In just over half an hour, Noname’s “

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Top Albums 2023

What are the top albums of 2023 mentioned in this text?

In this text, the top albums of 2023 highlighted include Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS,” Peso Pluma’s “Génesis,” The Rolling Stones’ “Hackney Diamonds,” Megan Moroney’s “Lucky,” Kelela’s “Raven,” Karol G’s “Mañana Será Bonito,” André 3000’s “New Blue Sun,” Noname’s “Sundial,” and Arlo Parks’ “My Soft Machine.”

Who wrote the list of top albums in 2023?

The list of top albums in 2023 was curated by Big Big News Music Writer Maria Sherman.

Are there any notable trends or genres mentioned among these albums?

Yes, the text mentions trends in music for 2023, including the dominance of regional Mexican music, the resurgence of country music, the exploration of various musical influences like U.K. garage and ’90s house, and the recognition of reggaetón beyond Latin communities. It also highlights André 3000’s unique ambient jazz release as a significant departure from traditional rap.

Why were some albums excluded from consideration in this list?

Certain albums, such as SZA’s “SOS” and Ice Spice’s “Like…?,” were excluded from consideration in this list because SZA’s album was released in December 2022, and Ice Spice’s release was not a full-length album. Additionally, “Barbie the Album” received 11 Grammy nominations, which were considered recognition enough and didn’t require inclusion in this list.

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